Monday, July 31, 2017

Rocky Mountain Elk Encounter


I'm glad to hear that you all have been enjoying my Canadian Rocky Mountain posts. So far, I have shared photos and commentary from the first three days of our trip. I'm looking forward to posting details and pictures from day four of our adventure, but I thought I would take a break and tell you about our first wildlife encounter.

Growing up, I visited the Rockies several times and always saw at least one bear or moose. On this trip, we heard many residents talk about all the issues the park rangers have been having this year with grizzly bears approaching humans, but never once did we see one.

Towards the end of our trip, Mr. Handsome and I were driving north along Yellowhead Highway, discussing the pizza we had just enjoyed in the quaint town of Jasper, when all of a sudden, Mr. Handsome shouted, "Elk!" He quickly pulled the car onto the shoulder, where a male elk was grazing in a meadow just 20 feet from the side of the road.


It was 9:30pm, and the sun was starting to set and shining right in our eyes, so I was very impressed that Mr. Handsome was able to see the elk. We watched it walk around, sit down in the grass, put its head down, and then stand back up--all the while taking tons of pictures. (I think we played the role of tourists quite well.)


Just when we were about to drive away, a female elk with a baby began walking over from the other side of the meadow. Out of nowhere, the baby bolted across the road. Thankfully, the cars stopped just in time.

We decided to stay just a few minutes longer, and boy were we glad we did. About a dozen other elk appeared in the meadow.


By that point, other tourists had stopped behind us. A couple brave (and perhaps a little foolish) folks approached the elk, and when those around them saw that nothing bad was happening, they, too, walked closer.


I stayed beside the car, while Mr. Handsome joined one of the more conservative groups of people. Both of us were able to get within 10 feet of an elk.



The elk continued to eat, not paying any attention whatsoever to the humans, but I did manage to snap a few photos that look posed.


A mother and baby came near the car, so I readied my camera. I snapped this fantastic photo of the mother sticking her tongue out.


 The baby approached the mother and attempted to suckle her...


...And the mother proceeded to kick the baby in the face. The baby backed away and stumbled off into the meadow. Poor little thing!


Here's a short video I made from the car window. Stay tuned for photos of the unique wildlife we encountered on our last day in the mountains!

19 comments:

  1. Anonymous7/31/2017

    Wonderful pics Ellie! You did the right thing staying by your car. People get far too close to wildlife causing the wildlife to behave, well, wild!! And as the creatures they are. As well, such close constant contact with humans leads to all kinds of issues that so often result in the animal's death through no fault of their own as they behave as an animal! Look forward to more pics and blogs of your days here in Alberta's beautiful parks. My husband has been enjoying your travels here as well as I share them with him. My sister was a park ranger in Kananaskis; another beautiful area to explore here. Eileen

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  2. Anonymous7/31/2017

    That mother's kick is a good reminder of why you should not get close to these animals!

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  3. Anonymous8/01/2017

    I'm really glad you guys are smart and weren't a part of the foolish tourists that have gotten way too confident with approaching wildlife in our national parks! It's crazy what people will do for a photograph. We are on the animal's territory :)
    There have been a few articles written in relation to these people: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/banff-bears-tourists-photos-danger-free-park-entry-1.4180027

    Here is also a super interesting article about Bear 148 in Banff who's future is in jeopordy because of the confidence it has gained from being around humans so frequently.

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    1. That's a crazy article. Thanks for sharing. We had a good laugh when some friends of ours who own a bed and breakfast near Banff told us they had visitors ask them if the grizzly bears in Banff are tame.

      I hadn't heard about Bear 148, but we did hear stories about other bears that have been transported out into the wilderness because of their increased comfort around people. Apparently the rangers will scare them with loud noises and bright lights before letting them go just to reinforce that approaching humans is a bad idea.

      Do you live near Banff?

      Ellie

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  4. Anonymous8/01/2017

    This was just precious, thank-you for sharing your adventures!
    Ha, the mother elk has no other way of putting her calf to the grass to eat, when it is time for the next stage development.

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    1. Anonymous8/02/2017

      I guess the human equivalent is sending your kid to college or helping them move out of the house? A swift kick is faster and cheaper, though! LOL

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    2. Anonymous8/04/2017

      That calf could have turned out like (Sonny Driesdale)! (Had mom not disciplined).

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  5. The pictures are gorgeous!

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  6. Julianna E8/02/2017

    I've really enjoyed the pics from your travels, Ellie. I think you've inspired me to finally plan a trip that I've been wanting to do for months now :) - Julianna

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    1. Glad you're enjoying the pictures, Julianna! What trip are you hoping to take?

      Ellie

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  7. Anonymous8/02/2017

    Oohh... you're making me jealous! Been through Jasper very quickly before but now I want to go and spend more time there again. -RebeccaVMk

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  8. Anonymous8/02/2017

    These pictures are breath taking. Thanks for sharing. Thank you for the great Crown of Beauty giveaway. God Bless.
    Marilyn

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  9. Anonymous8/02/2017

    I get excited when I see wildlife while my hubby is driving. While driving to our mall which is 1 1/2 miles from our house we sometimes see deer grazing along the road. A few years ago while we were driving to our mall we saw a black bear and as we passed he stood up on his hind legs. We live in a town, it's sad to see wildlife in town now. These elk look like they have lots of room to roam. Enjoy reading about your adventure..Jane

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  10. Alicia Mae8/02/2017

    My family recently saw some elk in the Colorado Rockies! Unfortunately it was at dusk with fading light, and none of us got any good pictures like you did.

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  11. So nice!! Beautiful creatures!

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  12. Anonymous8/02/2017

    Cool pictures! There was a herd of elk near my home last winter, but they didn't come close enough for pictures like that! Thanks for sharing!
    Maddie

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  13. I love the pictures! God's creation is so beautiful :)

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  14. lovely pics!

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